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How many long distance (500NM+) VFR Pilots are there?

RobertL18C’ s post about a possible flight to EDRD Neumagen Dhron from the U.K. got me thinking. We know long distance IFR cross countries are a relative rarity in the piston aviation world. How much rarer are long trips VFR in SEPs?

This is the kind of flying I do. It’s why I have a plane. I get the impression that most people rarely venture 50 miles from home. Since July, my plane has not been back to base because we keep finding new places to go. How many other people in Europe fly like this?

It may be that anyone who is a candidate for this type of travel upgrades to an IFR plane and goes over to the dark side. It’s a decision I may make soon. But I’m curious to hear about people who choose to fly this way. What are your estimates on the number of such people?

Tököl LHTL

I used to

On top of my head, single day trips:

Porto LPVL → La rochelle LFBH → London EGSX (7h30)
London EGLM → Metz LFJL → Chamblay LFJY → Marseille LFMA
Ales LFMS → deauville LFRG → London EGLM

In all honesty, they were VFR/IFR. Not that I was in IMC, but they were flown circa 10,000 ft, straight line, GPS.

The 500NM guideline doesn’t have to be in a single day! I rarely fly as high as 10,000 feet, like the view from 2000-3000 feet!

Tököl LHTL

My Wife and I went to UK this spring VFR from Rheine via Aachen, Headcorn, Nottingham, Wellesbourne, Lydd, Aachen and back to Rheine. That was our longest trip this year with 900NM total. Do you think of flights like this? Otherwise I have flown to Friedrichshafen (~590 NM turnaround) with the Sperling (writeup here), several times to Flensburg (ca. 329 NM both ways), to Welzow (534NM complete tour) and several short (<100NM) trips. Of course most of my flying free time was occupied by instructing, but last year I did some trips with a student on the look for his first aircraft to Cottbus, witch was 522NM turnaround on one day, then to Mainz (ca. 300 NM both ways). He is now doing a few shorter trips with his own aircraft because the days are short but next year he plans on farther trips to the UK and Austria. Another former student of mine went with his 5(-ish?) years old son on a tour through Germany in his own plane on a 700 NM roundtrip on three days. An other pilot took a club aircraft up to Siljansnas on a 1200NM round trip last year.

In our club the majority of pilots do occasional trips beyond 100NM, but some are completely happy with just flying to the north sea or around the neighborhood in circles. I think if they are happy it’s all fine. Even some pilots with an own aircraft stay within the vicinity, although those pilots are the minority of pilot/owners. (I always try to advertise ownership within the club, as most owners are very active and do much more than their share for the club – and those members are very valuable for a working club).

I personally would do much more longer trips, but since instruction is also a promise to the student, this isn’t always possible, timewise.

Aufwind GmbH
EKPB, Germany

I used to, until I got my IFR ticket and realised how much “easier” filing IFR actually is…

LFHN - Bellegarde - Vouvray France

WP my last proper international VFR trip was to Sabadell, so around 1300nm round trip. I am still hoping to get EDRT and beyond, next time I am not working is towards the end of November.

I am now monitoring in my parallel universe how many days I would have been stuck at L2K if I had set off on Sunday.

At this time of the year a 300nm sector is bound to encounter some weather. You need some reasonable winds to move it along, but then you run into, not so much crosswind limits in a Super Cub, but taxying wind limits.

A good friend took a C150 to Vilnius and back, and also a C182 to Sydney (aircraft was containered back) VFR.

…and then these intrepid airmen are currently on the way to Cape Town VFR

Oxford (EGTK)

I can probably count 50-60 trips in my log that meet that criterion, including several 5-6,000 NM outings and a few where I only filed IFR on occasional legs of the trip.

These have been both in Europe and the US.

It helps if you remain flexible over route and timing (and possibly destination); but it’s rare that I have to cancel or abandon completely.

My current mount is day/VFR only, but I seldom find that a serious limitation.

I would guess that 90% of the 10,000 aircraft at Oshkosh arrived VFR with >500NM round trip.

KHWD- Hayward California; EGTN Enstone Oxfordshire, United States

Those flights you describe in paragraph 1 are exactly what I was talking about!
What’s strange is that long flights are similar to short flights. The only differences are that you sleep in a different place and have to deal with weather.

Last Edited by WhiskeyPapa at 14 Nov 17:57
Tököl LHTL

Low altitude did Faro LPFR → Porto LPVL at about 2000 ft, following the coast, which was really nice. I think my only flight over 4h (old pa28 and lots of headwind hence the low level).

Also did a couple of times London to a place south of Paris (joigny LFGK) (picking up people at toussus or st cyr), no GPS, VFR (so sometimes 800 ft agl). Bust badly Orly’s airspace on return of that flight and then started using GPS

Did serval 1000nm trip VFR in:
-USA: Very easy with Flight following and airport everywhere with good facilities and FBO
-Europe: Must have good knowledge of weather but doable
-Africa: Flying and weather usually easy. Flight permit and paperwork less…


LFPT Pontoise, LFPB
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